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Zakuska ~ Russia's Little Bites

Zakuska ~ Russia's Little Bites

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Zakuska ~ Russia's Little Bites

138 pagine
1 ora
Dec 14, 2010


Zakuska precedes evening meals throughout the Soviet Union. Depending on the occasion, or the economic standing of the family, these "little bites" range from humble offerings of hard salami and bread to elaborate buffets complete with caviar and smoked salmon.

Dec 14, 2010

Informazioni sull'autore

Darcy Williamson, an award-winning author, is a Rocky Mountain herbalist, naturalist. During her fifty-year career, she has written over twenty books and taught more than one hundred and thirty apprentices the knowledge and preparation of backyard herbal medicine.She owns two alternative lifestyle teaching and learning facilities, From the Forest in McCall, Idaho and Mavens' Haven in Lucile, Idaho.Aside from eBooks, she currently has three books published by Caxton Printers, Ltd., (Basque Cooking and Lore; River Tales of Idaho and The Rocky Mountain Wild Foods Cookbook) plus several independently published titles including Healing Plants of the Rocky Mountains, McCall's Historic Shore Lodge, and Medicinal Camino, Plant First Aid Along "The Way".

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Zakuska ~ Russia's Little Bites - Darcy Williamson


Russia’s Little Bites


Darcy Williamson

Cover Painting by Suzanne Sheldon

PUBLISHED BY: Darcy Williamson on Smashwords

Copyright © 2010 by Darcy Williamson All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

Smashwords Edition License Notes This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author's work.

ISBN 978-0-984-31366-2

— First eBook Edition —

Table of Contents


Chapter I Syr (cheese)

Chapter II Pelmeni (filled dumplings)

Chapter III Pirozhki (small filled pastries)

Chapter IV Ribi, Eekrah (fish, caviar)

Chapter V Myahssah (meat)

Chapter VI Ptyeetsi (fowl)

Chapter VII Salat (salad)

Chapter VIII Khlyehb (bread)

Chapter IX Avahshchyee (vegetables)

Chapter X Tryeht’yeh (dessert)

Chapter XI Miscellaneous



Zakuska precedes evening meals throughout the Soviet Union. Depending on the occasion, or the economic standing of the family, these little bites range from humble offerings of hard salami and bread to elaborate buffets complete with caviar and smoked salmon. Whether humble or elaborate, the warmth and sincerity of the host and hostess presenting the zakuska never varies.

Russian families set aside the time necessary to enjoy their evening meal and zakuska is enjoyed as the activities of the day are discussed. Hidden in the flaky pastries or steamed dumplings of the little bites are remnants of previous main courses.

The main course of the meal usually consists of boiled meat, fish or poultry and vegetables, and is served an hour or two after the zakuska.

Many couples in the large cities of Moscow and Leningrad dine out frequently. In restaurants and cafes scattered throughout the cities, well-dressed couples savor tidbits from small dishes which garnish each table. It isn't unusual to see the same couple, three hours later, lingering over dessert.

When friends gather, it usually includes an evening meal. Stringed instruments of one kind or another usually appear and songs are sung as vodka and zakuska are passed. My husband and I attended such gatherings of friends in Moscow. The zakuska tables were filled with such delights as fried goat's cheese, pickled mushrooms, bliny, dumplings, salami, breads, smoked fish, caviar—the variety seemed endless! While vodka, Russian beer and wine took the late-November chill from our bodies, our new found friends took the chill off our preconceived opinions of the Soviet people. Good friends and good zakuska warmed our spirits and left a lasting glow of comradeship.

Dining, for the people of the Soviet Union, is an event and zakuska marks the beginning of this very special time. When I now gulp down a quick meal amid a busy schedule, I can't help reflecting on the leisurely zakuska—the unhurried nibbling of some tantalizing treasure.

Chapter I Syr (cheese)

The Mongols taught the Slavs how to make curd cheese from goat's and ewe's milk. The following recipe for Brynza is a curd form of an aged cheese known by the same name. Curd cheeses remain an important dairy food to the countries of the Soviet Union.

The Turkmen nomads made a staple cheese called kurt, which was molded into a sphere and sun-dried. Cured in this manner, the cheese would retain its edibility for years. This cheese is reconstituted as needed by soaking small chunks in water or milk. For eight months out of the year the nomads live almost entirely on the milk of horses, goats and sheep—and cheese.

Most cheeses found in the Soviet Union are white. They include spicy pilchard, Swiss, Rossiky and Tvorag—a pot cheese. Cheese is most frequently eaten as a breakfast food. It is also often found on Zakuska tables, since in metropolitan Russian cheese is seldom, if ever, served as a main course.

Bry nza (sheep's milk curd cheese) Makes 10 ounces

½ gallon sheep's milk

¼ cup clabbered buttermilk

1 Tbsp. water plus 1 tsp. finely ground dried nettle (available at natural food stores)

Pour ½ gallon of fresh, raw sheep's milk into a deep crock. Milk should be slightly warmer than room temperature (75 to 80 degrees F.).

Whisk buttermilk, water and nettle into the milk. Secure a square of double-folded cheesecloth over the opening of the crock, and set the crock in a warm place (75 to 80 degrees F.) for 24 hours. If the milk has not clabbered, continue to keep it in a warm spot until it does (may take up to 36 hours).

At this point, a thin, watery liquid called whey will have separated from the curd. With a sharp knife, cut the curd into l-½-in. cubes. Place a pan large enough to hold the crock on low heat. Add a few inches of water to the pot and set the crock in the pot. Insert a thermometer in the curd and keep heat on low until the thermometer reaches 115 degrees F. Retain this temperature for 30 minutes, gently stirring the cubed curd occasionally.

Line a colander with cheesecloth and gently pour the curds and whey into the colander. Allow most of the whey to drain out (save the whey for use in soups or gravies), then take up the corners of the cheesecloth and hang the bundle over a bowl to catch any remaining whey that drips. Hang for 2 hours.

Bring to boiling a pot of water. Plunge the bundle into the water for 4 seconds, then hang the bundle again. After 1 hour, repeat the boiling water plunge, allow mixture to drain 1 hour, then wrap in several layers of cheesecloth and refrigerate. The curds will be ready to eat in three to four days.

Curds of Brynza are used in numerous ways. Often a bowl of curds is placed on the Zakuska table and spooned over bliny. The curds are also used in dumplings (see Pelmeni with Brynza, Chapter II).

Brynza is good eaten by itself, or sprinkled with caviar.

Blirek (cheese filled turnovers) Approximately 24

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F.)

Dash of sugar

2 pkgs. active dry yeast

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 eggs, lightly beaten


1 cup Emmenthal cheese, finely grated

½ cup Swiss cheese, finely grated

½ cup curd Brynza or large curd cottage cheese

¼ cup sour cream

1 egg beaten

To make pastry, sprinkle dash of sugar and 2 pkgs. yeast over warm milk. Let stand 5 minutes in warm place. Stir gently. Sift flour into a large bowl. Melt butter in small saucepan and cool to room temperature. Lightly beat eggs and butter into yeast mixture. Pour over flour in bowl, stirring with wooden spoon to make soft dough. Turn on lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and satiny. Cover and let rise in warm place 1½ hours.

Meanwhile, make filling by mixing together grated cheese, curd cheese, sour cream and beaten egg. Chill.

On lightly floured surface, knead dough lightly. Roll out to a 20 x 16-inch rectangle. Divide dough

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